Magpul is now offering 40-round capacity PMAG GEN M3 magazines for AR-platform rifles chambered for .223 Rem/5.56×45. Just 2 1/8″ longer than a 30-round Magpul magazine, the new 40-rounder will fit and function in standard AR mag wells. Magpul claims that: “The new PMAG 40 is just as reliable, durable, and compatible as the PMAG 30.”
Magpul’s new 40-round magazines should prove popular with 3-Gun competitors. The extra 10 rounds can reduce the number of mag changes, which should allow 3-gunners to shave seconds off stage times. As with other latest-generation PMAGs, the new PMAG 40s feature an over-insertion stop catch that prevents the magazine from being slammed too far into the gun during fast changes. This stop catch prevents mag damage and lessens the chance of a malfunction. For LEO and Military personnel using select fire ARs, Magpul notes that: “The optimized magazine spring can handle feeding at cyclic rates over 1150 rounds per minute.”
Major vendors, such as Brownells, will be selling the PMAG 40s very soon. Brownells is charging $19.95 for the PMAG 40, product #100-012-633WB. We expect these things to sell like hotcakes. The editors of Guns.com note: “These magazines are going to be incredibly popular. Everyone likes extra ammo, even when it’s hard to find. And when most magazines with capacities greater than 30 run $40-$50, at these prices Magpul is going to tear through their competition.”
Have you been struggling to find brass, powder, and (especially) primers? No luck finding rimfire ammunition or loaded ammo for your pistols or hunting rifles? Well, now there’s a free web-based search service that can help you find what you need. The service costs nothing and you don’t have to sign up to run searches.
GunBot.net employs “search bots” to scour the internet for available inventories of ammo, powder, primers, brass and magazines. GunBot.net checks the inventories of over sixty retailers, including leading vendors AmmoMan, Bass Pro, Brownells, Cabelas, Cheaper Than Dirt, Grizzly, JG Sales, Dan Killough, Midsouth Shooters Supply, Midway USA, Powder Valley, Rainier Arms, Sinclair Int’l, Sportsman’s Guide,, Wholesale Hunter, and Wideners.
Results can be sorted by price or time (most recent results first). You can even get email alerts notifying you when the product you need is available. (To get alerts, you must first log-in and create an account with GunBot.net. There is no charge for this service.) GunBot.net’s search spiders work constantly, so results are normally very current. Pages auto-refresh when new “matching items” are found.
Primers Found Efficiently with GunBot.net GunBot.net saves us time by instantly checking inventory at many dozens of online retailers. In May, we were looking high and low for large rifle magnum primers. Then a quick search with GunBot.net revealed that site sponsor Powder Valley, Inc. had some in stock. We placed our order and had the primers in our hands the next week. Here’s a screenshot showing primer inventories on June 17, 2013:
With bullets in short supply and prices rising, here’s an opportunity for you folks located in the middle of the country who can visit Missouri. Sierra offers discounted bullets at its Factory Outlet store in Sedalia, Missouri. Sierra says: “If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, you can purchase available bullet seconds and our full line of products directly from our outlet store”.
Sierra’s Factory Outlet inventory is constantly changing and no guarantees are made as to product availability. Bullet seconds are sold by the pound and are limited to 100 pounds per bullet type and a total of 300 pounds per day per person. There is a limit of 25 pounds of mixed bullets per day. Bullet seconds are for private consumption and not for resale! Factory seconds may include blemished bullets and mixed bullets, so weigh and measure each bullet prior to loading! Factory seconds must be picked up in person and will not be shipped.
Sierra Production Facility Tours
Along with Factory Outlet sales, Sierra Bullets offers tours of its production plant. If you are in the vicinity, why not head over to Sedalia and see how Sierra bullets are made. Sierra states: “Visitors are welcome in our facility — advance reservations are not required for groups smaller than 10. Tours are available Monday – Friday, 8:30 am to 4:40 pm. Large groups will require one week notice, but for families or individuals, come on in and we’ll make the delay as short as possible. The tour will take approximately 45 minutes. There is no cost for the tour.”
For more information, call Sierra at (888) 223-3006 or send email to: sierra[at]sierrabullets.com .
Story tip by EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
We all know that reloading components have been in short supply in recent months. If you’ve been searching for quality brass, your wait may be over.
A boatload of Lapua cartridge brass has crossed the Atlantic, cleared customs, and is now in warehouses. Many large vendors report that they have ample supplies of Lapua brass in stock now. So if you need some cartridge cases, place your orders today.
Here is a summary of the cartridge types in stock, vendor by vendor. Sorry, no 6mmBR brass on hand at these outfits, but you’ll find most other types of Lapua rifle brass:
Lapua Rifle Cartridge Brass in Stock as of 6/12/2013
Want smoother chamfers on your case-mouths? Here’s a simple tip that can: 1) remove the sharp edge left by chamfering blades; and, 2) create a smoother entry for your bullets. Smoothing the inside chamfer can avoid nicks on your bullet jackets, and can also make bullet seating more consistent.
If you are using a 45° rocket tool on newly-trimmed brass, start your inside chamfer with two or three turns in the normal cutting direction. Keep the tool centered, and use light-to-moderate pressure — you don’t need to remove a lot of brass. After your cutting turns (which should reveal a shiny chamfer line), take out the tool, inspect the neck and remove any small brass chips or shavings.
Now here’s the secret — put your tool back in the neck and go in the reverse direction for a couple partial turns. Again, be sure to keep the tool centered and use a light touch. The reverse rotation of the rocket tool inside the case mouth will burnish and smooth the chamfer. Next you can make a quick spin with some fine steel wool held in your fingers. Don’t grind away — you do NOT want to get rid of all the carbon in the neck. As a last step we run a hand-held nylon brush in the neck for 2-3 quick passes to further smooth out the chamfer and remove any residue from the steel wool.
We think, if you use this procedure, your will find that your bullets seat more smoothly and consistently. That can improve accuracy and help avoid mysterious fliers.
You can use this same technique even if you prefer a sharper angle chamfer tool for your initial inside-neck chamfering operation. Reverse your tool gently a couple turns to burnish and smooth the cut. And always remove brass chips and shavings before you run the tool backwards (in the non-cutting direction).
Don’t Forget to Smooth the Outside Chamfer Too
You can also use the backwards rotation trick on outside chamfers to smooth and soften the sharp edge. A little steel wool, applied judiciously, can help here. If you are chamfering a large number of cases after trimming, you may want to tumble the brass in corn-cob or walnut media after the chamfering procedure. Tumbling further smooths the chamfer. You want a nice, smooth chamfer with no burrs or sharp edges.
Products in the 2013 CMP catalog include: M1 Garand Rifles, Smallbore Rifles, Air Rifles, Replacement Barrels (newly manufactured), Garand Stock Sets, m1903 Stock Sets, M1 Carbine Stock Sets, Ammunition (commercial and surplus), Tools/Gauges, Rifle Cases, Shooting Coats, Shooting Gloves, Shooting Mats, and Instructional DVDs. Note: To order a rifle from the CMP, purchasers must provide proof of: 1) U.S. Citizenship (and age); 2) Membership in a CMP-Affiliated Organization; and 3) Participation in a Marksmanship or Other Firearms-Related Activity.
By Dennis Santiago
Competition teaches you things. Compared to loading for benchrest bolt guns, producing ultra-reliable and accurate ammo for tight-chambered, semi-auto .308 target rifles requires a different approach to case prep. Smoothness of operation is much more important in a field course gun. Reliability trumps everything (even case life) for these types of guns.
In the photo below, there’s a Redding small base body die for bumping the shoulder and making sure the case body is at SAAMI minimum. This body die is not just nice to have. It is vital. There are also a full-length sizing die and a Lee Collet neck-sizer in that turret holder. One or the other gets used after the body size die depending on what rifle the ammo will be used in. The semi-auto rounds always go through the full-length sizing die. After that comes trimming and finally cleaning — then loading can begin. The cases are trimmed using a Gracey trimmer so everything’s the same each and every time. I use an RCBS Competition Seater Die to seat the bullets. One nice feature of this RCBS die is the open side slot that allows you to place bullets easily.
It’s a long path methodology but uniformity is accuracy. More important for safety, controlling “stack-up” errors in the system solution is how one achieves reliability. The chamber-hugging philosophies of benchrest bolt guns do not apply well to AR-10s. Like most things, the right answer is context-dependent. Success is about accepting and adapting.
Dennis Talks About Using a Semi-Auto in Tactical Competitions
I have succumbed to the Dark Side — deciding to put an AR-10 together. For tactical competitions you want a bolt gun most of the time but there are times the course of fire favors the use of a semi-auto. I was using an M1A that gives me 0.75 MOA performance but I heard people were getting almost bolt-gun-level, half-MOA accuracy out of their AR-10s — so I wanted to see if that was really achievable. A quarter-MOA difference in accuracy potential may seem tiny in practical terms but it will make a difference in competition. In a match, the difference between 3/4-MOA and 1/2-MOA can alter your hit probability on a small target by 20-30%.
The AR platform also lets you tinker with triggers, stock ergonomics and muzzle brakes that help in managing the dynamics of a long distance shot better. Well I found out you can get the incremental accuracy but there’s more work to do to get the same reliability. Being a curious sort, it’s worth it to me to explore it. It’s a far cry from as-issued M-1 shooting with whatever HXP is handy. This is definitely swimming in the deep end of the pool.
Well it looks like there’s some real talent in the next generation of IBS Benchrest shooters. Watch out for those young guns — they can give seasoned veterans a run for their money — and then some. Young Kevin Donalds Jr. fired a perfect 250-25X score to win a 100-yard IBS score match at the Thurmont, Maryland range on May 18th, 2013. At just 12 years of age, Kevin is already showing he has the focus, talent, and determination to win. And, yes he managed to beat his proud father Kevin Donalds (Sr.) who finished second with a 250-23x. Like father, like son. It’s great to see a father and son who shoot together — and share the podium together.
Above, 12-year-old Kevin, match winner, is shown flanked on his left by his father (second place), and on his right by third place finisher Larry Fritz. Young Kevin was shooting a 30BR (no surprise), with a BAT action, Krieger barrel, and an affordable Sightron 8-32X scope (about $860). The rifle was smithed by Sid Goodling and stocked by Roy Hunter. The load was a stout charge of Hodgdon H4198, fired by Federal primers, pushing BIB 112gr bullets.
How would you like to lower your Extreme Spread (ES) and Standard Deviation (SD) significantly by a simple procedure that takes seconds and costs almost nothing?
Here’s all you need to do. After lubing your cases for full-length sizing, be sure to clean your hands (removing ALL residual lube) before you handle your bullets. As an extra measure to avoid lube contamination, slip on thin Latex gloves before you handle and seat your bullets. Will this make a difference? Let me tell you a story.
Keep Those Greasy Fingers Off Your Bullets
I recently loaded a couple dozen cases for a 6mm Dasher. We were in a hurry to leave for the range so I was loading faster than normal. When we started shooting the ammo I noticed that the 5-shot ES was bad — really bad — 48 fps. I was shocked because this was a known good load that had previously showed ES in the teens. This one had me stumped. What could have resulted in this high ES? What did I do different while reloading this time?
Then a lightbulb went off. I realized I had been seating bullets (round by round) immediately after lubing and sizing each case. My fingers still had some greasy lube on them which obviously got on some of the bullets, “polluting” them. My normal reloading procedure is to lube and size all cases, clean them off, then place the brass in a loading tray. Then I would clean my hands BEFORE adding powder and seating bullets. This time, in my rush, I sized a case, wiped it off, then immediately added powder and projectile. I did not take the time to clean off my fingers carefully before handling the bullets.
Big Drop in ES When I Avoided Bullet Contamination with Case Lube
The next day I went back to the loading room. I loaded the same brass with the same powder, same primer, same bullet type, same bushing — same everything. But this time, I washed my hands thoroughly with a hand cleaner, dried them with a clean paper towel, and I even put on thin latex gloves before handling the bullets. I loaded 10 rounds and fired them over the chronograph again in the same rifle. The 5-shot ES was 14 fps and the 10-shot ES was 22 fps (That’s normal for this load/rifle). Compare that to a 5-shot ES of 48 the day before. I had reduced my 5-shot ES by 70%! We were back in business. (By the way, the groups were also very small).
Lesson Learned — Keep Case Lube Off Your Bullets Your results may vary of course, but now I always make sure to remove ALL residual lube from my fingers before handling bullets or doing anything that can get unwanted lube inside the necks.
What about gloves? I don’t think the Latex gloves are essential (if your hands are dry and clean), but they just cost a few pennies when bought in bulk. You can buy a box of 100 latex gloves for under $7.00 on Amazon.com. I suggest the non-powdered type.
Use Your Common Sense
Before the critics launch a tirade, let me be the first to acknowledge that many champions have loaded perfectly good ammo (and shot great groups) without paying much attention to greasy fingers. We’ve all seen short-range benchresters loading ammo between relays. They work fast and may not take the time to clean all lube off their fingers before seating bullets. And we’ve seen some of those guys go out and shoot itty-bitty groups in the ones and zeros. So I am NOT claiming that careful “reloading bench hygiene” is essential to shooting small!
All I am saying is that I observed and recorded a significant drop in my ES when I made sure to avoid contaminating bullet jackets with case lube. This is a simple precaution that is easy to follow when loading at home. It may help you cut your ES/SD. It may help avoid that one “mystery flyer” that ruins a group. Cleaning your hands before seating bullets may seem obsessive. But the smart reloader knows that paying attention to the small details, in all respects, is the key to making ultra-accurate ammo that exhibits low ES/SD on the chronograph.
Shooting a 50 BMG, off-hand, at 1000 yards may seem absolutely nuts, but read on — this story should make you smile. At the Texas Triggers Ranch (Sonora, TX), former Army Ranger and Sniper Team Leader Ryan Cleckner, shooting OFF-HAND, hit a torso-sized steel silhouette target at 1000 yards with a 50-caliber Barrett M107. That would be impressive enough, but consider this — Ryan hit the target on his first shot. And yes he was shooting standing (on his hind legs), holding the 37-pound rifle with his arms (no support).
Watch VIDEO of Ryan Cleckner Shooting Barrett M107 Off-Hand at 1000 Yards
Jumbo-Sized Ammo, and Jumbo-Sized Recoil
The ammo Ryan used in his 50 BMG Barrett pushes a 661-grain bullet at 2900 fps muzzle velocity. This load (fired from this 37-pound rifle), has 12,357 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle, and 81.88 ft-lbs of recoil energy. To put things in perspective, an 18-pound, .308 Win F-TR rifle, shooting a 168gr bullet at 2750 fps, has 7.99 ft-lbs of recoil energy. So, Ryan was shouldering a weapon that delivered more than Ten Times the recoil energy of a .308 Win. (Energy numbers calculated with Point Blank software). And he made it look easy. Kudos to Ryan for proving what a properly-trained marksman can do. Rangers Lead the Way….
For those of use who have sweated through fire-forming and load development, it’s nice to see things coming together right out of the gate. With the 6mmBR improved wildcats such as the BRX, BRDX, and Dasher, it’s not unusual to see outstanding accuracy even while blowing out cases. In fact the accuracy is usually good enough that you might as well do your fire-forming during competition (once you’ve confirmed that everything is working with a 10-round function test). We’ve seen Dashers shoot in the low twos and even ones during fire-forming — so long as you load carefully and use good bullets, powder, and primers. Here’s a report from Forum member Chris W. (aka “baydawg”) on his new 6mm BRX tube gun:
Shot my 6 BRX last night for the first time at 600 yards last night. The result was a 199-11X. Not bad for fire-forming brass with thrown loads… LOL. Thanks Gary Eliseo and Competition Machine for a kick-ass chassis!”
Gun Specs: Competition Machine R1 in Granny Smith green. Pierce repeater tube gun action. 32″ Bartlien 6mm barrel, chambered in 6mm BRX. Smithed by Pierce Engineering in Lansing, Michigan.
Forum member Alex W. (aka “zfastmalibu”) came up with a clever adaptation of an item you may already have on your kitchen counter. By drilling a few strategically-placed holes in a wood knife-holding block, Alex created a handy, 20-round ammo holder for the bench. We’re not sure the wife will appreciate the new holes in her kitchen accessory, but we think this is a smart invention. Alex asked fellow Forum members: “What do you think, is there a market for it?” We think there is. Of course, with a ruler and an electric drill you could probably make your own version easily enough.
Get a Solid Wood Knife Block for under $15.00 Beechwood Knife blocks can be purchase for just $14.99 through Amazon.com. They are also available in solid walnut wood ($29.99), cherry wood ($29.99), and Bamboo wood ($29.99).